United States lawmakers from both parties yesterday criticized President Donald Trump for failing to issue a stern warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin about meddling in American elections, calling Trump’s message to Putin weak and a missed opportunity.
Reaction on Capitol Hill was highly critical of Trump’s performance in a joint news conference in Helsinki with Putin after the two leaders’ first summit. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that it was a “missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.”
Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “This answer by President Trump will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves.”
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement that Russia undoubtedly interfered in the 2016 election. “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals,” Ryan said.
Another Republican, Senator John McCain, described Trump’s summit with Putin as “a tragic mistake.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office said he had no immediate comment on Trump’s remarks in Helsinki.